Women in uniform pledge to reduce violence during an UNMISS-facilitated training in Bentiu

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In Unity State, women in uniform commit to advocate and work for peaceful coexistence at an UNMISS training on reducing violence by using gender-responsive methods. Photo by Luk Riek Nyak Bol/UNMISS.

16 Jan 2024

Women in uniform pledge to reduce violence during an UNMISS-facilitated training in Bentiu

Luk Riek Nyak Bol

UNITY – When civil war erupted in South Sudan, women and girls continued to risk their lives to support their families amidst fighting and the threat of sexual violence.

With the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in 2018 and a transitional government of national unity in place, South Sudanese women continue to play a major role in their families, neighborhoods, and communities as peacemakers.

Women in uniform are no different. In their line of work, protecting civilians, especially vulnerable ones, is a daily task they have vowed to achieve.

To boost efforts of women officers—military and police—in building peace, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently partnered with Unity state’s Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare to hold a training on reducing intercommunal violence and using gender-responsive approaches to eradicate its root causes.

Some 50 women officers participated in this interactive programme held in Bentiu.

“Women play a key role in peace processes. We make up 50 per cent of any society and we must be fully integrated into all efforts to usher in an enduring peace. If we pool together our diverse experiences to achieve this common goal, I am sure we will be successful,” explained Sara Nyalade Diew, a participant and peace advocate.

“Women’s role is key to ensure peace prevails. Collective efforts will allow us to overcome differences and benefit from our diverse backgrounds to achieve our common goal,” explained Sarah Nyalade Diew, a participant and peace advocate in Bentiu.

Nyatear Manytuil, a police officer attending the event, said she believed that serious progress is overdue to transition from South Sudan’s traditionally male-dominated social structure into a more equitable environment where women and girls can attain their full potential.

“Cultural and gender stereotypes have kept South Sudanese women in the background but if our country is to become a true democracy, women’s voices must be heard and included in all walks of life,” she stated passionately.

For her part, Lieutenant Colonel Kasare Nyot Nyieth, another participant, emphasized the need for women’s full and equal participation in politics, governance and decision-making ahead of the country’s first post-independence elections expected to take place in December 2024.

“We are looking forward to taking part fully and placing our needs and aspirations front and centre during elections. We must shoulder collective responsibility and help create a safe space for the people of South Sudan to exert their right to vote freely, without intimidation,” she asserted.

Edea Sharon, a Gender Affairs Officer serving with UNMISS was delighted by the participants’ will to learn more about their part in this process.

“Women in uniform can be the change South Sudanese are hoping for. Such initiatives will equip them with tools to fulfill their commitment in forging a path to peace and unity."

In conclusion, participants requested the UN Peacekeeping mission to run similar sessions across Unity state and the Ruweng Administrative Area.